Several people have asked me how I am applying for permanent residence in Canada. This blog post is about our personal experience of preparing an application. It does not, obviously, constitute legal advice.
You are not automatically entitled to permanent residence when you marry a Canadian! However, you are allowed to apply for a visa. We are applying for an in Canada Spousal or Common Law Partner visa. As the name suggests, you must be married or in a common law relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and currently living in Canada. In order to apply, you must complete several reams of paperwork.
However, before you can start the paperwork, you need to obtain a police check from your country of origin and you must undergo an immigration medical. There are three parts to an immigration medical: an examination by a Citizenship Immigration Canada (CIC) approved doctor, a blood test and an X-Ray. All medical costs are incurred by the applicant and their sponsor.
The first step is to undergo a medical exam with a CIC approved doctor. I gave a urine sample, gave a medical history and had a physical. She was an amazing doctor: she was very thorough with my medical history, she was very gentle during the exam, she was very understanding that the medical was stressful for me and was very kind when I started cry when talking about my history of situational depression. After the medical, she gave me referral paperwork in order to obtain a blood test and an x-ray. This cost $150.
The blood test was checking for syphilis and AIDS and cost approximately $30. The x-ray was checking for signs of TB and cost approximately $80. When I went for the x-ray, the technician kept asking questions about my menstrual cycle. I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time and kept responding to her questions with “I don’t know.” She finally asked “Is there any chance that you might be pregnant?” Then I laughed and said “Lesbianism is my form of birth control.” She didn’t find it as funny as I did.
The results of the blood test and x-ray were sent directly to my immigration doctor. Based on the results as well as her medical history and exam, she had to submit a grade to the CIC. The applicant is never told what grade they received. My total medical costs were $268.
You also need to submit a police check from your country of origin as well as any country that you lived in for more than six months in during the last ten years. This was a fairly straight forward process I obtained a set of fingerprints from the Calgary Police Service which cost approximately $50. Then I submitted the fingerprints, an application for a police check and the required payment to the Australian Federal Police. Taking the currency conversion rate and the cost of obtaining a foreign money order, this came to approximately $130. The total cost of obtaining a police check was $180.
Once I had undergone a medical and applied for a police check, we started the paperwork. For Wife and myself, there were two different sets of paperwork to complete: the sponsorship application and the application for permanent residence.
The sponsorship paperwork was completed by Wife. She had to prove that she is a Canadian citizen and that she had the financial resources to be a sponsor. Wife provided a photocopy of her birth certificate (to prove that she is Canadian) and financial information including a copy of her most recent notice of assessment and a letter from her employer stating the terms of her employment and her remuneration. She also signed an agreement that binds her to financially supporting me for three years after I obtain permanent residency.
The application for permanent residence was completed by myself. I had to prove that I am in a a genuine relationship with Wife. This involved completing a relationship survey where I had to describe how I met Wife, provide a list of family members and the date that they met Wife, describe our engagement party, wedding ceremony and reception and provide the guest list for each event. I also had to explain why my parents could not attend our wedding and why we did not have a honeymoon. I also needed to include any additional evidence that proved that we were in a long term relationship. So I included a joint credit card bill, a joint phone bill, photographs from holidays, confirmation e-mails for plane, train and hotel bookings for an upcoming holiday, photographs from our wedding and engagement party, photocopies of love letters that Wife had sent me, a photocopy of the wedding card that I wrote for Wife and printouts of e-mails dating from 2007 – 2010.
I also needed to prove that I’m a suitable candidate for permanent residency. The information that I provided included: disclosing membership to every organisation to which I’ve belonged in the past ten years, including trade unions and political organisations, listing every place where I’ve lived for the past ten years, listing the schools I’ve attended and promising that I’ve never been involved in genocide or other crimes against humanity, committed a crime, tried to overthrow the government, belonged to or provided financial support to a terrorist organisation or suffered from a debilitating mental illness.
Once we had completed the paperwork, we paid a $550 application fee. Then I mailed thia three pound package of information to CIC offices in Vegreville (which is home to the world’s largest Ukranian easter egg).
The total cost of preparing the application was approximately $1050 (to account for expenses like printing photographs, passport sized photos for the immigration medical and photos for CIC).
Now we are waiting. We are hoping that Wife will be approved as a sponsor in January or February. Once she is approved as a sponsor, I can apply for an open work permit. An open work permit is valid until a decision is made regarding my application for permanent residence. We do not have a time frame for the processing of my permanent residence application. It might take a few months, it might take a year.
Do you have any questions about our experiences? Feel free to ask!